Keylor Navas is finally set to make his Real Madrid debut as manager Carlo Ancelotti indulges in a heavy dose of squad rotation against Elche at the Bernabeu tonight.
The Costa Rica international goalkeeper joined from Levante in a 10million (Dh47.1m) deal this summer but has so far been kept out of the team by veteran Iker Casillas.
Although Ancelotti did not confirm the selection of Navas it is very likely to be one of several changes this evening, with the Italian coach anxious to avoid burdening his senior players with too heavy a workload during a period of seven games in the space of 22 days.
Two more players who could benefit from the changes are Isco and Asier Illarramendi, who have struggled to make a major impact at the Bernabeu but both performed well from the bench in Saturday’s 8-2 thrashing of Deportivo La Coruna, Isco providing a lovely assist for Gareth Bale and Illarramendi completing every pass he attempted.
“We have a few different options within our playing philosophy and now and again we can call on them,” said Ancelotti. “Illarra gave us more control of the ball and offered support to the defenders.
“Isco was outstanding in both last season’s finals and has progressed very well.
“I have not lost any confidence in him. We know he is still very young and that he represents the future of the team.”
One player unlikely to be rested, however, is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is getting back to his best after a frustrating period of niggling knee injuries and scored a superb hat-trick at Deportivo.
Ancelotti believes Ronaldo needs more games to rediscover his rhythm. “He doesn’t need to be rested yet,” he said. “We need him because he is enjoying a great streak.”
And the Italian boss will continue to give Ronaldo a free role, explaining: “He has to have the freedom to be able to follow his instincts on the pitch.”